Snow is a wondrous and magical element; it delivers excitement, fresh air and is a delightful reminder that the world is alive. It transforms landscapes from their natural palette of colours into a scene from a kitchen – like a dusted fairy cake. Everything is tipped in white, locked under the delicate construction of snow flakes, bringing everything to a silent, bright halt. Snow may certainly be beautifully bold but it’s also cold and dangerous, effecting the vegetation and lifestyles that many species depend on. But when you find those species that are excellent hunters or users of the snow, it’s remarkable to snap a shot of snowy photographs of animals. Image Credits: Dan Newcomb Photography The elongated, large and extremely furry hind feet of the Snowshoe hares are a perfect adaptation for moving atop of snow both fast and effectively during winter, removing the danger of falling in. Their beautiful snow-white winter coat grants the perfect camouflaged against other predators lurking amongst the snow. When the winter months slowly creep into spring, their fur appears to almost ‘melt and drip ‘away into their brown summer fur. The coat colour conversion takes approximately ten weeks to change. Image Credits: Dan Newcomb Photography Image Credits: Imapix Image Credits: Aspenbreeze Image Credits: Dan Newcomb Photography Arctic wolves are a remarkable species that can tolerate years of sub-zero temperatures, up to five months of darkness a year and weeks of unsuccessful hunting and searching for food. They occupy areas where the ground is permanently frozen or decorated in snow and were temperatures often reach -22F. Not many species have been able to tolerate such harsh conditions, but the arctic wolves have evolved beautifully to the battles the harsh climate wish to offer. The arctic wolves stay in these Canadian arctic conditions throughout their lifestyle, relying on their adaptations rather than escaping to warmer grounds. Arctic wolves have both an under and overcoat of fur, which together, provide insulation against the harsh temperatures. The thick pads on their feet prevent their paws from becoming glued to the ice, and a reduced muzzle, smaller ears, shorter legs and a bulkier body compared to other wolf’s species prevent heat loss, allowing them to retain internal body temperatures. Morphological adaptations are not the only necessity when surviving in the climate of cold and deadly, changes in behaviour are also crucial. Living in packs provide the opportunity of group co-ordinated hunting, allowing the group to hunt down larger prey species such including the musk oxen and caribou. These larger kills will provide a better distribution of energy and insulation across the pack. Image Credits: Dan Newcomb Photography Image Credits: Tambako the Jaguar Image Credits: andi.vs.zf Image Credits: Jan Reurink Image Credits: Mark Carmody // http://www.markcarmodyphotography.com/ Image Credits: Dave Stile’s Wildlife Photography The face of the Bison is another impressive adaptable character from the harsher climates. Their thick layered coats provide excellent insulation, and with a slowed down metabolism, their energy is conserved and utilised much more efficiently over a longer period of time. Snow consumes the once grassed floors in thick layers – making feeding almost impossible for most species, but it’s the muscular neck of the bison that prevents them from starvation. Their large, powerful neck muscles sweep the snow layer by layer, continuing until they reach that sweet rare taste of grass. Majestic in appearance, Bison bulls can grow up to 6 feet tall at the shoulders and weight over 2,000 pounds generating great insulation. Image Credits: Bonnie Bowne Image Credits: Imapix Image Credits: Eyebex Image Credits: Gaëtan Bourque (Imapix) Image Credits: Nick Chill Photography Image Credits: Tambako the Jaguar A personal favourite, the snow leopard is beautifully balanced with its thick muscular tail and shimmers with the lightness of white, silvers, gold’s and greys. This leopard is a great ambassador for its remarkable adaptations for living in cold mountainous ecosystems. Their bodies are stocky and draped by thick fur and their ears are small and rounded, reducing the size of their surface area – all classical adaptations that help to minimize heat loss. Alongside this, snow leopards have a deep nasal cavity lined with specialised sinus passages which allows the leopard to warm up cold air before it enters the lungs. With wide paws, their weight is cleverly distributed over snow to allow smooth walking and their bulky tails act as a storage supply of fats. Image Credits: Tambako the Jaguar Image Credits: David Cartier Image Credits: Aspenbreeze Moonandbackgraphics Beautiful display of winter wildlife images and commentary. JP Snow makes everything look beautiful, particularly the natural world, thank you for bringing to our attention some stunning wintery images and some very passionate written words.